The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sweetwater Creek State Park

For a long time I had a desire to go to Sweetwater Creek State Park.  Many others, mostly photographers, have been telling me about the park.  Last Thursday I went to see for myself.

Sweetwater Creek opened in 1976 and is the most visited day-use park in the Georgia State Park system.  The day I was there -- the parking area was filling before noon.  There were many families and people walking dogs.  Also, lots of hikers and joggers using the park.  Sweetwater is located near the city of Lithia Springs, 15 miles west of Atlanta.  This area has so many native dogwoods blooming in the woods -- it looked like a snow flurry as I drove to the park entrance.  The park is open from 7am to dusk.  There are three color-coded trails.  The interpretive center is fairly new and rated as one of the most environmentally responsible buildings anywhere.  wow!  In the facility you will find an interesting display and many pamphlets about the park and the plants and animals found there.  There are trail-specific materials with descriptions and pictures of the plants for easy identification.  

If you take the red or the blue trail you will pass the ruins of the textile mill for the town of New Manchester.  The mill opened in 1849 as the Sweetwater Manufacturing Company.  It was sold in 1857 and renamed the New Manchester Manufacturing Company.  The mill produced yarn, thread, and fabric.  It stood five stories tall.  In 1864 it was burned by Sherman during the Civil War.  The ruins are popular with photographers.

The park is a nice place for a moderate hike.  If you take the white, blue, or red trail you will also end up at the falls -- not high falls -- but pretty none the less.  There are a lot of rocks and fast water from near the ruins toward the falls area.  This will give you the opportunity to try those blurry water photos -- you know -- milky water and sharp rocks.  I love those.  The day I was there was very bright.  I stacked my neutral density filter with my circular polarizer and played a little.  I did not haul the tripod down the trail -- I wish I had.  There are some railings on overlook decks that can help out as sort of a tripod.  This was OK until a small group of kids came along running down the steps and shaking the whole structure.

I really like Sweetwater Creek State Park -- and I can see how it is the most visited.  When I was there I had to get a new park pass for 2009 and I asked about setting up a hike with the ranger.  He is supposed to call me -- I hope he does so soon!

Also, check out the Friends of Sweetwater Creek website -- lots of great information there!


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